Isaiah 14:1-32

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14:1. Masoretic Text: For YHWH will be merciful to Jacob and will yet choose Israel, and he will give them rest on their ground. And the stranger will be joined to them, and they will attach [themselves] to the house of Jacob.

Septuagint: And the Lord will be merciful to Jacob and yet choose Israel, and they will rest on their land. And the stranger [gióras] will be added to them; even he will be added to the house of Jacob.

The term gióras is transliterated form of an Aramaic word meaning “stranger” or “resident alien.”


“Jacob,” as the forefather of all the tribes of Israel, is here representative of the Israelites as a people. The parallel expression “Israel” is the name given to Jacob after he wrestled with an angel. (Genesis 32:25-28)

Whereas Babylon would become desolate, YHWH would deal compassionately with the descendants of Jacob, forgiving them of their sins and again choosing them to be his people. He would open up the way for them to return to their own land and to find their rest there, for the land would then be their home.

Witnessing what YHWH had done for his people in restoring them to their land, persons from other nations would identify themselves with the house of Jacob. This could mean that people of the nations would become proselytes. Their attaching themselves to the house of Jacob could also have referred to the time when non-Jews would put their faith in Jesus as the promised Messiah and unique Son of God, forming a united body with Jewish believers.

14:2. Masoretic Text: And peoples will take them and bring them to their place, and the house of Israel will possess them as servants and handmaids on the ground of YHWH. And they will be captors of those who had taken them captive, and they will rule over their oppressors.

Septuagint: And nations will take them and bring them to their place, and they will receive an inheritance and increase on the land of God for male servants and female servants. And [their] captives will be those who had taken them captive, and they will lord over those who had lorded over them.

The Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah says “many peoples” and, before the words “to their place,” adds “to their land and.”


The manner in which people of the nations took Israelites back to their land was by making it possible for them to do so and supporting their return. Cyrus, the Persian king whose military forces conquered Babylon, issued a decree that granted permission to the Israelites who chose to do so to return to their land. Cyrus also directed people among whom the returnees were then living to assist them in undertaking the long journey, giving them silver, gold, goods (likely including food), and animals. (2 Chronicles 36:22, 23; Ezra 1:1-4)

Years later, in the time of Ezra, many other Israelites returned to the land. Among them were descendants of non-Israelite Nethinim or temple servants and descendants of the servants of King Solomon. (Ezra 2:43-58, 64, 65) Thus it could be said that, in their own land, the Israelites came to possess people from other nations as their servants. According to the rendering of the Septuagint, the male and female servants would increase in number. The land is called the “ground of YHWH,” as he had promised to give the land to the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

From the standpoint of developments after Jesus’ resurrection and ascension to heaven, non-Jewish believers assisted Jewish believers. They served their Jewish brothers, generously contributing money to assist those in need. (Romans 15:25-27; 2 Corinthians 8:1-4; 9:1-5) According to the Septuagint, people of the nations would receive an inheritance. This did prove to be the case regarding non-Jews who put their faith in Jesus. They became fellow heirs with Jewish believers, coming to be “sons” or children of God and thus in line to receive all the privileges and blessings that sonship entailed. The number of believing non-Jews continued to increase, eventually outnumbering the Jewish believers.

As far as the descendants of non-Jews who returned to the land were concerned, they appear to have become part of the Israelite community and thus came to have an inheritance in the land and continued to increase in number.

After their military campaigns against the kingdom of Judah, the Babylonians assumed the role of captors, taking many Israelites into exile. The fall of Babylon brought a reversal, with Israelites being elevated to positions above their former captors. (Esther 2:16, 17; 10:2, 3; Daniel 6:1-3)

14:3. Masoretic Text: And it will occur in the day when YHWH has given you rest from your pain and disquietude and the hard service with which you were forced to serve,

Septuagint: And it will be in that day that God will give you rest from the pain and your fury and your hard service with which you served them.

The “disquietude,” agitation, or intense inner upheaval can also refer to “fury” or “wrath,” which is the rendering found in the Septuagint. Based on the context, this would be an intense agitation that is comparable to that which a person experiences when incited to wrath.


As exiles in Babylon, the Israelites had pain or distress, often being subjected to taunts and oppression. (Compare Psalm 137:1-3.) This resulted in an internal upheaval for them, causing them to be disheartened. Additionally, they were subjected to servitude, doing hard labor for the Babylonians.

As he would be the one to use Cyrus to overthrow the Babylonian empire and permit the Israelites to return to their own land, YHWH would be giving his people rest there from all the suffering they had experienced. On that “day” or at that time, they would be able to express themselves differently than they had during the period of their affliction.

14:4. Masoretic Text: that you will take up this likeness against the king of Babylon and say, How the oppressor has ceased! The assault [marheváh (Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah) madheváh (Masoretic Text)] has ceased.

Septuagint: And you will take up this lamentation against the king of Babylon and say in that day, How the exactor has ceased and the compeller has ceased!

The Hebrew and Greek words that may be translated “cease” have the basic meaning of “rest.”


The “likeness,” “parabolic saying,” or “lamentation” (LXX) would take the form of a taunt. Being in the form of a likeness or parabolic saying, the poetic wording is not to be taken literally but serves to convey the message against the “king of Babylon” in a vivid manner.

On the “day” or at the time of their being granted rest from the distress experienced during their exile in Babylon, the Israelites would be able to express themselves according to the words of this saying against the “king of Babylon.” In this case, the “king” is probably to be understood to mean the Babylonian dynasty that had its start with King Nebuchadnezzar, the ruler whose military forces desolated the territory of the kingdom of Judah and destroyed Jerusalem and its temple. The exclamation that begins with “how” expresses amazement about the swift end of the oppression for which the “king of Babylon” had been responsible.

Both the Hebrew participle rendered “oppressor” and the Greek participle translated “exactor” are similar in meaning. The Hebrew verb nagás has been defined as “press,” “oppress,” “force,” “drive,” “spur on,” and “exact.” It can refer to the act of exacting or demanding payment from a debtor. The Greek verb apaitéo signifies “to demand back” or to exact payment of a debt. When nations did not meet Babylonian demands and submit, they were subjected to punitive military action. So it can be said that the Babylonian dynasty acted like an oppressive creditor or an exactor.

There is a measure of uncertainty about the meaning of the Hebrew word madheváh, which term has been translated “golden city” and has also been understood to signify “exactress of gold.” This designation would then apply to the city of Babylon. In the Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah, the word that appears in the text is marheváh, meaning “onslaught,” “assault,” or “attack.” This is closer in meaning to what the translator of the Septuagint understood it to be, for the Greek word epispoudastés can refer to one who forces others to work, one who compels, or a taskmaster, and so could designate someone who assaults. The Aramaic word in the Targum of Isaiah (taqúph) means “strength” or “might.”

14:5. Masoretic Text: YHWH has broken the rod of the wicked, the scepter of rulers,

Septuagint: God has broken the yoke of sinners, the yoke of rulers.


The Babylonians proved themselves to be the “wicked” or “sinners” (acting contrary to the voice of conscience) when engaging in ruthless campaigns of conquest and thereafter subjecting exiled survivors to harsh servitude. This treatment was comparable to their wielding a rod as might a cruel master when arbitrarily beating his slave. According to the rendering of the Septuagint, the treatment was like a yoke that weighed heavily on those who had to bear it.

By using the warriors under the command of Persian king Cyrus to seize Babylon, YHWH broke the rod or the power the Babylonians had wielded when enslaving and mistreating conquered peoples. In thus also bringing the Babylonian dynasty to its end, YHWH broke the scepter or the royal authority and power that Babylonian rulers had exercised ruthlessly and oppressively.

14:6. Masoretic Text: the one striking peoples a blow in wrath without interruption, the one ruling the nations in anger [with] unrestrained pursuit.

Septuagint: Having struck a nation in wrath [with] an irremediable blow, wounding a nation [with] a blow of wrath that was not restrained,


When other nations did not meet the demands of the “king of Babylon” or the Babylonian dynasty, they became the objects of his fury. He then used his military forces against them relentlessly, striking them without letup until his warriors had triumphed and left behind a devastated land stripped of its treasures. In efforts to expand the empire, the Babylon dynasty exercised no restraint in its aggressive military campaigns, subjecting nations to be conquered to the full force of its fury.

According to the Septuagint rendering, the blows directed against a nation were of such severity that there was no hope of recovery. The “king of Babylon” did not restrain himself in expressing his fury when wounding another nation and thereafter assuming dominion over it.

14:7. Masoretic Text: All the earth is resting, is undisturbed. They break forth with a [joyful] cry.

Septuagint: he, obeying, rested. All the earth cries with rejoicing.

The Septuagint rendering could be understood to mean that the “king of Babylon” or the Babylonian dynasty “rested” from all warring against other nations. The aggressive military campaigns ceased when Babylon fell. At that time, the “king of Babylon” was forced to submit obediently to God’s will, for God had predetermined that, through the victory of Persian king Cyrus and his forces, Babylonian rule would end.


The fall of Babylon would mean rest for “all the earth” or all the peoples of the various nations to whom the Babylonian military had proved to be a threat. Babylon would cease to be a source of disturbance from aggressive warfare that brought death and destruction to various nations and left survivors in a state of misery. All peoples who had suffered would have reason to break forth with rejoicing on account of the fall of Babylon.

14:8. Masoretic Text: Even the firs [plural form of beróhsh] rejoice over you, the cedars of Lebanon, since you were prostrated: No one felling comes against us.

Septuagint: And the trees of Lebanon rejoiced over you, and the cedar of Lebanon: Since you have lain down, no one has come up to fell us.

In the Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah, the conjunction “and” precedes the final phrase about no one doing the felling.

There is a measure of uncertainty about the tree to which the Hebrew word beróhsh refers. This Hebrew noun may designate the “fir” (Latin, abies), which is the rendering found in the Vulgate. Another suggested meaning is “juniper,” which is based on the Akkadian word for “juniper” (burāšu).


In its campaigns of aggression, the Babylonian dynasty acted like a woodchopper, with the nations to be conquered being like trees about to be cut down. These “trees” could rejoice when the Babylonian dynasty would lie prostrate, having come to a humiliating end.

The Targum of Isaiah does support a figurative application of this verse. It represents “rulers” as rejoicing and the wealthy as saying that no destroyer was coming up against them.

The reference, however, may well be to literal trees. For siegeworks, the Babylonian warriors would cut down trees. Therefore, the trees could rejoice from the standpoint that no longer would anyone come up to the areas where they flourished, intending to cut them down to further the cause of Babylonian aggression.

14:9. Masoretic Text: Sheol below is disturbed for you to meet you at your coming. It rouses the Rephaim for you, all the he-goats of the earth. It has raised all the kings of the nations from their thrones.

Septuagint: Hades below was embittered [when] meeting you. All the giants were roused together against you, those who have ruled the earth, those who have roused all the kings of the nations from their thrones.


Sheol or Hades is the realm of the dead. It is here personified and represented as meeting the “king of Babylon” or the Babylonian dynasty upon its downfall. The whole realm is depicted as being stirred up, disturbed, agitated, or “embittered” (LXX). In case of the Septuagint rendering, “embittered” is probably to be understood of a state of great upheaval like that associated with embitterment.

“Rephaim” is a transliteration of the Hebrew word. In this context, it probably means the rulers of the earth who had towered over others by reason of their position of authority. They were the “big men,” the “giants” (LXX). Their being called “he-goats” appears to call attention to their dominant position. They asserted their power and authority as with the horns of a male goat. All the kings in the realm of the dead are portrayed as being aroused and getting up from their thrones.

In the Septuagint, the “giants” appear to be the active agents in rousing the kings from their thrones. When referring to Sheol as being “disturbed,” the Hebrew verb has a feminine ending. Thereafter, however, the verb forms for “rousing” and “raising” are masculine gender in the Masoretic Text. This creates a measure of ambiguity. If the Septuagint translator worked from a text containing the same change in verb forms, this may explain why Hades (Sheol) is not identified as the agent that rouses the kings of the nations. The ambiguity, however, does not exist in the Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah, where the verb forms are consistently feminine gender and thus clearly identify Sheol personified as the agent of the rousing and the raising.

14:10. Masoretic Text: All of them will respond and say to you, You also have become weak as we [are]; like us you have become.

Septuagint: All will respond and say to you, You also were seized even as we were, and you have been accounted among us.

The Hebrew text can also be rendered to represent the words directed to the king of Babylon as questions. “Have you become weak like us? Have you become like us?”


The kings who preceded the “king of Babylon” in entering Sheol are depicted as amazed to see him reduced to a weak or helpless state, the very state in which they found themselves. He had been reduced to the same level and so had been made just like them even though they had never attained to the degree of power and authority that he had formerly been able to wield.

14:11. Masoretic Text: Your majesty is brought down to Sheol, [as is] the sound of your harps. A maggot is spread out underneath you, and your covering [is] a worm.

Septuagint: But your glory has gone down to Hades, [as has] the abundance of your rejoicing. Underneath you they will spread out decay, and your covering [will be] a worm.

The Hebrew words for “maggot” and “worm” (also the Greek word in the Septuagint) are collective singulars, meaning “maggots” and “worms.”


The “majesty,” splendor, pride, or “glory” that the “king of Babylon, the Babylonian dynasty, had once enjoyed would come to an inglorious end as if it had plummeted to the lowest level or descended down to Sheol or Hades, the realm of the dead.

The sound of harps or stringed instruments (or any kind of “rejoicing,” according to the Septuagint) would cease to brighten the day for the “king of Babylon.”

No luxurious couch would there be on which the “king of Babylon” could recline, and he would no longer be wearing garments of the finest fabrics. Instead, his bed or couch would be maggots or, according to the Septuagint, a state of decay, and worms would cover him. Thus the Babylonian dynasty is portrayed as being like a corpse on which maggots and worms feed.

14:12. Masoretic Text: How you have fallen from heaven, shining one, son of dawn! You have been cut down to the earth, you who prostrated nations.

Septuagint: How has fallen from heaven the morning star, the one rising early! He has been crushed to the earth, the one sending off to all the nations.

The Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah (The Great Isaiah Scroll) has the singular “nation,” either a collective singular or referring to the kingdom of Judah. Like the Masoretic Text, another Dead Sea Scroll contains the plural “nations.”


The “king of Babylon,” or the Babylonian dynasty, had occupied an elevated position in its state of dominant splendor as if it were shining like a bright orb in the sky. Falling from this elevated position proved to be astonishing. According to the Septuagint rendering, the expression “shining one” designates the “morning star,” or the planet Venus, which appears “early” or in the early morning sky. In view of the planet’s early appearance, it is called “son of the dawn.” Instead of continuing to occupy a high position of splendor, the “king of Babylon” would be brought down low as one lying prostrate or, according to the Septuagint, crushed to the level of the ground. The Septuagint reference to “sending off to nations” could relate to the sending forth of armies in campaigns of conquest. While the “king of Babylon” is earlier spoken of as the “morning star,” it does not seem likely that the reference is to the sending forth of light to the nations, for there is nothing in the context that suggests anything positive about the Babylonian dynasty.

14:13. Masoretic Text: And you have said in your heart, “To the heavens I will ascend. Above the stars of God, I will elevate my throne, and I will sit on the mount of assembly in the extremities of the north.”

Septuagint: You, however, have said in your mind, “Into the heaven I will ascend. Above the stars of the heaven I will place my throne. I will seat myself on a lofty mountain, upon the lofty mountains that [are] toward the north.”

Like the Septuagint, the Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah does not include the conjunction “and” before the words “I will sit.”

The Targum of Isaiah interprets the ascent to be to a position “above the people of God.”


In his “heart,” mind, or thought, the “king of Babylon” is represented as expressing his intent to be in a loftier position than the “stars of God” or the “stars of the heaven.” If the expression is framed according to the Babylonian belief system, which included the worship of many gods and goddesses, the mountain of assembly could refer to the place where the gods would gather to hold council, the location being regarded as on an eminence in the distant north. Thus, in his ambition, the “king of Babylon” would be portrayed as seeking to place his throne among the gods. A number of translations make this significance explicit in their renderings. “I shall take my seat on the mountain where the gods assemble.” (REB) “I’ll sit there with the gods far away in the north.” (CEV) “I will preside on the mountain of the gods far away in the north.” (NLT) “I will sit on the mountain of the gods, on the slopes of the sacred mountain.” (NCV)

14:14. Masoretic Text: “I will ascend above the heights of the clouds. I will be like the Most High.

Septuagint: “I will ascend above the clouds. I will be like the Most High.

In the Targum of Isaiah, the boastful aim is mitigated. It represents the “king of Babylon” as saying that he purposed to “ascend above all the people,” coming to be in a loftier position than all of them.


The aim of the “king of Babylon” was to attain a lofty position that was comparable to being higher than the clouds. His resolve to resemble the Most High is likely to be understood as meaning that he would seek to attain the loftiest position possible. Then, as one ranking far above other kings and exercising dominion over other nations, he would come to be like the Most High.

14:15. Masoretic Text: But you are brought down to Sheol, to the recesses of the pit.

Septuagint: But now into Hades you will descend, and into the foundations of the earth.


Through aggressive military campaigns, the “king of Babylon” had humiliated other monarchs and the peoples over whom they ruled. He (the Babylonian dynasty) was destined to experience the greatest humiliation, being toppled from a lofty position and brought down to Sheol, the realm of the dead. The abasement is portrayed as being to the lowest level, the recesses or deepest parts of the pit. In the Septuagint, the expression “foundations of the earth” likewise indicates a low level. The “foundations” would here be perceived as being below the ground and on what the land was supported.

14:16. Masoretic Text: Those seeing you will stare at you. Concerning you, they will reflect, “Is this the man who was agitating the earth, shaking kingdoms, …?”

Septuagint: Those seeing you will be astonished over you and say, “Is this the man who was agitating the earth, shaking kings? …”

Both in the Hebrew text and the Septuagint, the thought continues in the next verse.


The realm of the dead is depicted as being astonished on seeing the “king of Babylon” plunged to the lowest depth. That this has happened to the one who agitated the “earth,” who brought great distress to the inhabitants of various lands through his campaigns of conquest, seemed incredible. He had shaken entire kingdoms, toppling monarchs, defeating their armies, and making the survivors subject to him.

14:17. Masoretic Text: “… who made the cultivated land like a wilderness and overthrew its cities, who, [for] his prisoners, did not open the house [of confinement]?”

Septuagint: “… The one who made the whole world [the inhabited land] desolate and pulled down the cities did not release those in distress.”

“Those in distress” apparently are the prisoners or persons who had been taken into exile.


Through aggressive warfare, the “king of Babylon” had devastated the lands his armies invaded. Once cultivated areas were transformed into a wilderness where thorny plants and weeds flourished and overgrew vineyards. During his campaigns, he and his forces captured cities, and took the survivors into exile. He did not permit the prisoners of war and their offspring to return to their homeland.

14:18. Masoretic Text: All the kings of the nations (all of them), [each] man in his tomb [literally, “house”], have lain down in honor.

Septuagint: All the kings of the nations have fallen asleep in honor, [each] man in his tomb [literally, “house”].

Like the Septuagint, the Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah does not include the words “all of them.”


Unlike the “king of Babylon,” the kings of other nations were given a proper burial. They rested in glory or honor, often surrounded by treasures in their impressive tombs.

14:19. Masoretic Text: And you are thrown from your tomb like a detested branch, [with] a garment of the slain, those pierced by the sword, who are descending to the stones of a pit, like a corpse [that is] trampled.

Septuagint: But you will be thrown on the mountains like a detested carcase with many dead, pierced with swords, descending into Hades. In the manner a garment drenched in blood will not be clean,

In the Septuagint, the thought is completed in the next verse.


The reference to a “detested branch” could be to an undesirable branch or sprout that is cut from a vine or a tree and is then thrown away and left to wither and decay on the ground. In the Targum of Isaiah, these words are represented as meaning that the “king of Babylon” would be cast out of the tomb like an untimely birth that is then concealed. Instead of “detested branch,” a number of modern translations have chosen the rendering “loathsome carrion” (NRSV, REB, Tanakh), which would have the support of the Septuagint.

Additionally, the “king of Babylon” is portrayed as just one corpse among a multitude of dead warriors. Completely surrounded by men killed with the sword, he is depicted as if he were wearing the slain like a garment. Instead of being in a tomb, the corpse of the “king of Babylon” is portrayed as lying in a battlefield, with the victorious warriors trampling upon it as they continue to advance. The expression “stones of a pit” could designate a stone-lined cistern into which dead bodies might be thrown. (Compare Jeremiah 41:7.) The Targum of Isaiah refers to the “pit of destruction,” apparently designating the realm of the dead.

14:20. Masoretic Text: You will not be joined with them in burial, for you have destroyed your land. You have slain your people. The offspring of evildoers will not evermore [‘ohlám, “limitless time”] be named.

Septuagint: thus you will not be clean, for you have destroyed my land and you have killed my people. You will by no means remain for time eternal, evil seed.

The expression “by no means” preserves the emphatic sense of the two words for “not” in the Septuagint text.


The “king of Babylon” would not even be accorded the dignity of having his corpse thrown into a pit along with other slain ones. Left lying on the ground, he would not be joining them in burial. This would be his fate for the wrongs he had committed. He destroyed or brought ruin to his own land when oppressing his subjects. In his military campaigns, many warriors perished. Therefore, he proved to be a slayer of his own people. For all time to come, the “offspring,” or all who constituted the Babylonian dynasty, would not be named, indicating that the entire royal house would not come to have any name of honor. It would only be known as the “offspring of evildoers.”

The Septuagint rendering represents the the “king of Babylon” as someone who remains unclean and thus needs to be discarded. Adverse judgment will befall him for the ruin he brought to God’s land (the land that YHWH gave to the Israelites) and for the slaughter of God’s people. As an “evil seed,” the “king of Babylon” would not be permitted to remain indefinitely.

14:21. Masoretic Text: Ready a place of slaughter for his sons because of the iniquity of their fathers, that they may not rise and inherit the earth and fill the face of the land with cities.

Septuagint: Ready your children to be slaughtered for the sins of your father, that they may not rise and inherit the earth and fill the earth with wars.

The Septuagint rendering is apparently addressed to the “king of Babylon,” whereas the Masoretic Text leaves the agent for readying the place of slaughter unidentified.


These words indicate that the Babylonian dynasty was to be completely eradicated because of the record of guilt that the “fathers” had made. No possible opportunity was to be left open for the reemergence of the Babylonian dynasty and its ruthless campaigns of conquest. For any vestige of the Babylonian dynasty to inherit the earth would have meant its coming to possess the lands of other nations and then building cities throughout the conquered regions. The Septuagint rendering identifies wars as the means for gaining control over the land of others.

14:22. Masoretic Text: “And I will rise up against them,” says YHWH of hosts. “And I will cut off from Babylon name and remnant and offspring and progeny,” says YHWH.

Septuagint: “And I will rise up against them,” says the Lord Sabaoth. “And I will destroy their name and remnant and seed,” this [is what] the Lord says.

The expression “Sabaoth” is a transliteration of the Hebrew word meaning “armies” or “hosts.”


By means of the instrument of his choosing, YHWH is portrayed as if rising up from a seated position to take action against the Babylonians. The execution of his judgment would be so thorough that no “name” or remembrance would remain. There would be no remnant, offspring, or progeny that could identify itself with Babylon, for the city would cease to exist.

14:23. Masoretic Text: “And I will make her [Babylon] a hedgehog’s possession and pools of water, and I will sweep her with the broom of destruction,” says YHWH of hosts.

Septuagint: “And I will make Babylonia desolate for hedgehogs to dwell [there], and she will be for nothing. And I will make her a clay pit for destruction.

There is uncertainty about the meaning of the Hebrew word rendered “hedgehogs.” Other renderings are “porcupines” (NLT), “owls” (NCV, NIV), “wild animals” (HCSB), and “bittern” (Rotherham, Young). Desert hedgehogs and long-eared hedgehogs are still native to the region, and so the rendering of the Septuagint would appear to be a good choice.


Desolated Babylon would prove to be an ideal habitat for hedgehogs. With irrigation systems in ruins, stagnant pools of water would be found there. The desolation would be such as if the place had been swept with a broom. According to the rendering of the Septuagint, the city would be reduced to nothingness or to a clay pit, indicating that the Babylon would come to destruction or ruin.

14:24. Masoretic Text: YHWH of hosts has sworn, saying, “Indeed as I have considered, so will it be; and as I have purposed, so will it stand, …”

Septuagint: This [is what] the Lord Sabaoth says, “In the manner I have spoken, thus will it be; and in the manner I have resolved, thus will it remain, …”

The thought is continued in the next verse.

“Sabaoth” is the transliterated form of the Hebrew expression meaning “armies” or “hosts.”


At this point, the subject is no longer the parabolic saying involving the “king of Babylon.” YHWH, with a vast host of angels under his direction, will not fail in seeing to it that everything he has said will be accomplished. His adding his oath to his word assures this. Whatever he has determined is certain to take place, and whatever he purposes stands, for it will without fail be carried out.

14:25. Masoretic Text: “… that I will break Asshur [‘the Assyrian’] in my land and trample him on my moutains, and his yoke will depart from them, and his burden will depart from his shoulder.”

Septuagint: “… to destroy the Assyrians from my land and from my mountains, and they will be for trampling, and their yoke will be removed from them, and their dignity will be removed from the shoulders.”

In the Masoretic Text, the third person singular suffix appears with the word for “shoulder” and is apparently to be regarded as a collective singular, referring to the people of the kingdom of Judah.

The Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah says “from you” (not “them”) and “from your [not ‘his’] shoulder.”

The Septuagint rendering could be understood to mean that the yoke of oppression the Assyrians imposed would be taken away from them, indicating that their power to enslave the people of the kingdom of Judah would be broken. The Assyrians would also be deprived of their dignity or impressive standing as a mighty empire, as if it were ripped from the shoulder.


In the time of the prophet Isaiah, Assyria was the dominant power in the region. Through his prophet, YHWH expressed his purpose to break the power of the Assyrians in the land and on the mountains he had given to his people. According to the biblical record, the capital city Jerusalem was saved from falling to the Assyrians during the reign of Judean king Hezekiah. According to 2 Kings 19:35, this occurred when one angel struck down 185,000 of the Assyrian host. Thus the yoke that the Assyrians had imposed on the kingdom of Judah, was broken and apparently thereafter the burden of having to continue paying a high tribute to Assyria ended for the nation.

14:26. Masoretic Text: This [is] the counsel that is counseled regarding all the earth, and this [is] the hand that is stretched out over all the nations.

Septuagint: This [is] the counsel that the Lord has counseled against the whole world, and this [is] the hand that is raised against all the nations of the world.


The “counsel” is the purpose that YHWH had determined to carry out. This purpose involved executing his judgment against the Assyrians, but it also included all the enemy nations of his people. Apparently for this reason, the action YHWH purposed to take is referred to as being against “all the earth,” or the peoples residing in the lands known to the Israelites. The portrayal of YHWH’s hand as being “stretched out” or “raised” (LXX) against the nations is representative of his being ready to strike them, punishing them for their acts of oppression and bloodshed.

14:27. Masoretic Text: For YHWH of hosts has counseled, and who will frustrate [it]? And his hand is stretched out, and who will turn it back?

Septuagint: For what the holy God has counseled, who will scatter [it]? And the [“his,” in other manuscripts] upraised hand, who will turn it back?


The answer to the rhetorical questions is that no one can stop YHWH from carrying out his purpose. What he has “counseled” or determined to do will unfailingly take place, for he is the Sovereign with hosts of angels in his service. When his hand is stretched out, prepared to strike or to execute his judgment, no one can prevent the follow-through.

14:28. Masoretic Text: In the year of King Ahaz’s death, this pronouncement occurred [to Isaiah],

Septuagint: In the year when Ahaz the king died, this word occurred [to Isaiah],


King Ahaz of Judah died in the first half of the eighth century BCE. The message that was conveyed to Isaiah, either in a dream or while he was in a trance, involved the Philistines.

14:29. Masoretic Text: Philistia, all of you, do not rejoice that the rod which struck you is broken, for from the snake’s root will come a viper and its fruit [will be] a flying serpent.

Septuagint: May you not rejoice, all you allophyles [people of another tribe], because the yoke of the one striking you has been broken. For from the seed of serpents will come forth a brood of asps, and from their brood flying serpents will come forth.

The Targum of Isaiah makes a Messianic application, indicating that the “Anointed One,” “Messiah,” or “Christ” would come from “the sons of the sons of Jesse, and that this one’s deeds would be like that of a deadly serpent among the Philistines.


Upon the death of Ahaz, the Philistines were not to rejoice. Possibly this would be because of their imagining that they would be able to continue with successful invasions of the kingdom of Judah, taking advantage of the perceived vulnerability of the inexperienced new king, Hezekiah. The rod (possibly designating kings from the royal line of Judah) that had struck the Philistines would not remain broken, unable to act against them. Earlier, the grandfather of Ahaz, King Uzziah, had successfully inflicted serious defeats on the Philistines. (2 Chronicles 26:6-8) David was the first Israelite king to subdue the Philistines, and they continued to be subject to his son Solomon. Ahaz, however, had lost ground to the Philistines, with a number of cities in the kingdom of Judah coming under Philistine control. (2 Chronicles 28:18) From the “root,” possibly meaning King Uzziah or the royal line of David, would come a more deadly foe. (Compare 1 Chronicles 18:1; 2 Chronicles 17:11.) The descendant of Uzziah or the new king from the royal line of Judah would prove to be like a venomous viper and like a “flying serpent.” The expression “flying serpent” may allude to its lightning-like striking. In this case, the word for “serpent” literally means “fiery one,” and so could be suggestive of the burning effect resulting to the person into whom the serpent injected its venom.

The successor of Ahaz, King Hezekiah, proved to be like a serpent to the Philistines, for he struck them down “clear to Gaza.” (2 Kings 18:8) The annals of Assyrian King Sennacherib indicate that the Philistines submitted to Hezekiah. Those annals also report that officials and others from the Philistine city of Ekron put their king Padi in fetters and “handed him over to Hezekiah,” who kept him in confinement.

14:30. Masoretic Text: And the firstborn ones of the poor will pasture, and the needy will lie down in safety. And I will kill your root with famine, and one will slay your remnant.

Septuagint: And the poor will be pastured through him, and the poor men will rest in peace. But he will slay your seed with famine, and he will slay your remnant.

The Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah says, “I will slay your remnant.”


The “firstborn ones of the poor” appear to designate the oppressed people in the kingdom of Judah who had suffered from Philistine aggression. The situation would change for these poor ones, allowing them to experience security like sheep that can pasture and then lie down for undisturbed rest.

The Philistines, however, would face YHWH’s severe judgment. They would perish from famine. Their “root” would die, suggesting that no life would be left in the nation. Without nourishment being transferred from its root, a plant dies. A remnant of Philistines who might survive the blow from famine would also perish.

14:31. Masoretic Text: Howl, O gate; cry, O city; melt, O Philistia, all of you. For from the north smoke is coming, and no one is separated from his appointed places.

Septuagint: Howl, O city gates; let the distressed cities cry out, all you allophyles [people of another tribe]. For from the north smoke is coming, and [there] is not to be.


On account of the calamity destined to befall Philistia, the city “gate” (a collective singular) or “gates” (LXX) were to howl or wail, and an outcry was to rise from the cities. Literally, neither the gates nor the cities could express distress, but individuals near the gates or those on guard duty there and the inhabitants in other parts of the cities could do so. The reference to “melting” could be understood to refer to losing courage or becoming terrified. Translations have variously rendered the Hebrew (“melt in fear” [NRSV], “quake” [Tanakh], “be stricken with panic” [REB], “totter” [NJB], “tremble with fear” [HCSB], “be frightened” [NCV], and “are weak in heart” [NLB]).

Warriors would be coming from the north. During the course of the military invasion, cities would be set on fire and dark smoke would ascend. Because the invaders would be responsible for the smoke, it is referred to as coming from the “north.”

There is a measure of obscurity about the significance of the concluding phrase. The reference may be to the warriors functioning as a united force, with no single fighter being separated from his designated place or from the ranks. This would mean that none would be in a vulnerable position like that of a straggler. Possibly the Septuagint reading (“is not to be”) indicates that all existence in the destroyed Philistine cities will have ended.

It appears that the earliest fulfillment came when King Nebuchadnezzar with his forces gained control over the area that included Philistia. (2 Kings 24:7; compare Jeremiah 47:1, 3-5.)

14:32. Masoretic Text: And what will one [“they,” Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah] answer the messengers of the nation? YHWH has founded Zion, and the lowly of his people seek refuge in her.

Septuagint: And what will the kings of the nations answer? For the Lord has founded Zion, and through him the lowly of the people will be saved.

In Hebrew, the consonants for the words “messenger”and “king” are the same, with the exception that the term for “messenger” consists of one additional letter (an aleph [A] before the concluding kaph [K]). The Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah, like the Septuagint, reads “kings,” not “messengers.”

The Targum of Isaiah represents the messengers of the nations as bringing good news, and that news includes the recognition that YHWH has founded Zion.


The “messengers of the nations” apparently were envoys other nations had sent to the kingdom of Judah for the purpose of forming an alliance to confront a serious military threat. (Compare Jeremiah 27:2-7.) Those who trusted in YHWH would reject the proposition, expressing their faith in him. He had laid the foundation of Zion, making the city his representative place of dwelling by reason of his temple there. From the standpoint of looking to YHWH as their helper and protector, the lowly ones of the people would find refuge in the city. According to the Septuagint rendering, they would be saved “through him” or on account of him. The Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah supports the rendering “him.”